From co-working space hub to e-commerce platform:Young entrepreneurs go online
With the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, most businesses have to suspend their operations, or their employees have to work remotely at home. The restrictions also forced many to go digital in their everyday lives: from working, to paying bills and buying necessities. It is no wonder that web stores and online groceries are thriving today.
In May, Roots Collective, a community of young social entrepreneurs, launched their digital platform https://rootscollective.ph/ to market their products such as home care, food and drinks, zero waste goods, and spread the message of achieving an inclusive and sustainable growth through entrepreneurship.
According to Allister Roy “Aloy” Chua, Roots Collective general manager for business development, their website has provided them a way to stay alive and thrive amidst the pandemic.
“But more than being an e-commerce store, we set up the site na in a way na hindi siya webstore lang. We set the website up to eventually become a digital platform for our entrepreneurs,” he said.
The root of Roots
Roots Collective started in 2016 when a group of entrepreneurs came together to create a more structured and stable physical community for them.
“We decided to have a proper dedicated workspace, selling space and storage space. And by night, it will be an events place,” Aloy said.
The group was first named as Roots Katipunan, since their office is in that area.
“We wanted to have a space - physical and psychological space - where social entrepreneurs and young local entrepreneurs come together to show the excellency of Filipino craftsmanship, sustainability, creativity, and for social enterprises, their social missions.”
The Roots webstore sells products such as Tsaa Laya, which sourced their tea from farmers in Calauan, Laguna; Banana Chief’s from plantations in Zamboanga; and organic products like coconut sugar and quinoa from Green Tummy. Other products that are essential to promote hand hygiene are natural disinfectants from Happy Helpers as well as Chlorine Dioxide from Pro-Organics.
The group is also open to collaboration with other local entrepreneurs who wish to have their products displayed on their website.
“We are very much open to having new merchants coming in. Just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll send you a memorandum of agreement with the details and you may send us a product list and the items so we can safely store them in our warehouse,” Aloy added.
In October 2019, Roots Collective with the support of the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) and the Forest Foundation Philippines (FFP) launched the Sibol (growth) Program Fund, a special grant facility that will facilitate collaborations among young social entrepreneurs and grassroots communities that PEF and FFP support.
“The fund will focus on the collaboration between Roots Collective and our traditional partner communities in product development and design, marketing and distribution,” PEF Knowledge Management Officer Anna Brillante Vibar said.
The partnership between PEF and with then Roots Katipunan kicked off in 2018 for the leadership development of young social entrepreneurs. Tagged as Collective Community Program, this community of practice provides entrepreneurial capacity building, market access and impact funding. The program hopes to strengthen the network of aspiring and seasoned social entrepreneurs supporting each other at the same time create positive impact to the local communities involved.